Category Archives: Mason CIty

Industrial Rain

Industrial RainIt was surprising to find it raining off and on today.  Thank goodness I got my outside menial chores done before the intermittent light showers started.  I did a little mowing at a property and while there, I couldn’t help but notice how poorly the so-called middle to lower tier of today’s homeowners take care of their yards.  They seem to make an attempt at mowing, but they don’t keep the volunteer trees and weeds from growing where their mowers can’t get at to cut.  This leaves me to really wonder what over fifty percent of our general public do during their free days and evenings.

My public open house at 1202 – 2nd St. NE was a great success to where there were people coming and going the entire time.  Thank goodness I printed out extra information sheets because I handed out my last one to a late arrival.  Everyone was spellbound by the views it affords of the Winnebago River.  I teasingly said to one, “You’re buying this site for the views, and the home comes with it.”  She actually agreed.  I’ve admired this homesite for a great many years and know full well its future owners are going to have their own “in-town” sanctuary.

Just today I was finally able to get a sale put together that’s been bouncing around for nearly two weeks.  Thank goodness this marathon negotiation is over.  When dickering continues on for so many days, the hard feelings begin to build along with quirky little requests being taken far too personal.

As normal with every year, over a month or so ago I was asked to buy a ticket or two from the Evening Lyons Club which holds their chicken barbecue every year from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm during the Cannonball Days. I purchased a ticket at the time and remembered this morning that I had it, so around 5ish I drove over to East Park for a take out.

After what I experienced this afternoon, I’m not so sure I’m going to buy a ticket next year.  Since I couldn’t get into the “drive-thru”, I had to find a place to park about a block away and walk there.  No problem.  When I went to the take out line, I discovered there were no baked beans or coleslaw.  I said to the lady holding a ladle full of slimy and sticky macaroni salad, “Where’s the coleslaw and baked beans?”  She quickly snapped back at me and said, “We’re out! Do you want macaroni?”  When the guy handed me their styrofoam container I said, “I don’t think I’ll be doing this next year.”  Listening to the comments from the people ahead of me, I don’t think they were the least bit satisfied as well.

I fully understand that many of these events being held are for charities, but my gripe is they shouldn’t be offering something they can’t deliver.  I’d rather have just given the guy $9.00 that day and called it good to go.  I guess I’m too old fashioned when it comes to serving guests to where they should always be given the best food and the best service. That’s what makes memories along with them looking forward to next year.

On my way back from Clear Lake this afternoon, I spied a not so often seen occurrence.  I noticed it raining heavily in the distance, so I pulled off and took the above photo.  I thought it was a good shot of “industrial” rain.  I’m now ready to go warm up my Cannonball chicken without the promised coleslaw and baked beans. Bon Appetite!

Bridge of Stone

Bridge of StoneIn my estimation, I’d say today was about as near perfect a day with the sun brightly shining, the temperatures at moderate levels, and a cool drying breeze from the north to bring our Summer’s senses into a near perfect balance.

Perhaps I’m a little more of a fan of these northerly breezes because I know it keeps the humidity down and the mosquitos away.  When young and working out in our vegetable gardens, the high humidity coupled with no wind brought out those pesky mosquitos in droves.  Nobody likes working outdoors when having to continually keep fighting them off.  I’ve never understood why some people are bothered by biting insects more than others.  For me, if there’s a biting fly or mosquito in the near, it’s after me.

Most of my day was spent going over several files on homes that’ll be closing very soon.  Going back thru an entire file before closing day arrives helps to ensure me there wasn’t something overlooked.  Tomorrow’s closing is with a charming young couple who have two beautiful young children.  They’re very excited to be moving into a home they can call their own.  Because of the abilities contained in their extended families, over the coming years, their new home will be transformed into quite the beauty.  I told them not to worry so much about making major improvements because its location allows for it.  There are several very impressive homes but only a stone’s throw away.

As I was driving out to take a photo of a home after lunch, I decided to pay particular attention to the number of black walnut trees there are in those area we call “the parking” which is that grassy section between the city street and the public sidewalk.  Since our City is purchasing a state-of-the-art tree removal contraption in preparation for the number of ash trees that’ll have to be removed, I think the general public should get a little more vocal about getting rid of the black walnut trees growing in the City parking.

Most don’t realize how messy and dangerous those trees can be–especially when they’re really big and shedding hundreds of nuts in the Fall.  If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a rotting shell casing of a walnut and didn’t get it completely off your shoe, you were quickly brought up to speed how its juice quickly created a world-class stain. Then of course, when those nuts drop on walks, driveways, and streets, they create trip hazards.

Walnut trees, like all other trees have their place in our world.  As far as I’m concerned the only place they belong, are in groves out in the country or in rows at tree farms.  If I were the one of authority in our City, I’d say “Get rid of every one of them growing on our City’s right-of-ways and plant something more befitting of public boulevards.”  Driving thru East Park this afternoon, I spotted the stone footbridge that was just recently re-built.  I think the contractor did a fine job by keeping it more period looking.

The above photo is of our new bridge of stone in East Park.  I’m glad the Park Board continues to stay pro-active with our jewel’s maintenance and improvements.

Weak Excuses

Weak ExcusesOne of the very few times I attend meetings, I found myself compelled to attend to one this morning in hopes I’d learn something along with a little socializing.  All went well until one of the speakers mentioned an important survey that went out to the general public.  When the time for questions and answers arrived, I couldn’t help but speak up and say, “I don’t remember getting a survey to complete.”  The speaker then said there were articles in the newspapers encouraging people to go to a web address and fill it out, as well as all Chamber of Commerce members having been sent emails.  I couldn’t help but interject by saying, “I didn’t get that email unless it went to my “spam” or “junk mail”, and since it was supposed to be so important, why didn’t someone call me?”  I guess that was the wrong thing for me to say, because I wasn’t given an answer to my question.

So what I found out today is that a little over 1.5% of the population of Cerro Gordo County went online and completed their survey, and that was supposed to be the magic number of respondents which provided the presenters of those results a clear enough picture of what the general public of North Iowa believes is best for all.  I then thought, “Hmmm…this sounds more like the workings of a small special interest group who’s quietly deciding what direction Vision North Iowa is to be taking.”  How can the opinion of 775 people living in our County manage to give a clear picture of what over 50% of those in our population really does or does not believe is best for Cerro Gordo County when they didn’t go online and complete their survey?”

While in college, I used to enjoy being the gadfly when an instructor would bring up something that was “supposed” to be,  or “assumed” to be true, and then invoke my belief there’s been too much over-using of statistics to where there’d become an extrapolation whenever he or she would start making assumptions based on un-verified facts.

We’ve seen what’s happened in recent elections that surprised even the best of political gurus.  It all goes back to where they got their information in the beginning.  Voters normally don’t change their minds overnight unless there’s been some great intervening circumstances that changed their minds.  The problem is that most of the pollsters don’t ask the right questions while questioning the right people.

This idea comes full circle when there’s been a survey where a small number of possibly special interest people take time to complete a survey, and then those results become  magically translated to be the “will” of everyone else. With all the seniors we have living in North Iowa, I can only imagine how few of them went online and completed it.  I guess I shouldn’t have gone to that meeting this morning because I was given one more example of how such a small number of our citizens in North Iowa seem to consider themselves the driving force of change along with being convinced those changes are the best for all.

After showing one home today, the rest of my day was consumed by final walk-thru’s along with working on closings coming up next week.  I think there were at least a dozen out-of-area and State phone calls I had to make today just to keep those transactions moving along.  One of my favorite colleagues gave me a belly laugh when commenting on some of the weak excuses we have to hear as well as endure while trying to get the general public to stay on their promised schedules.

The above photo is of two interestingly shaped rocks I found several days ago.  They look like stone stakes. Don’t you think?

Glorious Minutes

Glorious MinutesWe finally received a bit of a reprieve from the heat with a little bit of the much needed rain we’ve been waiting for these weeks.  Now that we’re down to more palatable temps, perhaps the tempers of much of our general public will get cooled off.

I decided to stop at Casey’s early this morning for a cup of java, and when pulling up, I noticed a man standing next to the building on his cell phone.  When I got out of my car, I could plainly hear him yelling at the person he was talking to.  I’m not one to normally judge by looks, but the language he was using would’ve made a sailor blush.  From just my quick glance his way, I noticed he had many “not cool” black tattoos on his neck and exposed arms.  When I came out with coffee in hand, he was still going at it on the phone.  He gave me a very angry glance when I got in my car.  All I could think of was to be sure and pray to never encounter him in a dark alley late at night.  He must’ve been a recent transplant to our City because I certainly would’ve remembered seeing him.

As I predicted, my Monday was filled with many things to do in preparation for closings coming up at the end of this week.  I’ve got nearly all of them ready to go with the exception of one which is still missing some necessary documentation.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings in hopes those documents will arrive in enough time to get that transaction closed.

After a short conversation with an owner of a home today, it was confirmed once again how neighbors really aren’t as neighborly as they used to be.  As far as I’m concerned, too many homeowners actively alienate themselves from those living around them to where they consider those who border them to be hostile insurgents.  They couldn’t possibly step back enough to consider that it’s not those around them who are possible troublemakers, but rather themselves.  I was pleasant during our meeting, but after my front door closed behind them, I walked back in my office in hopes they’ll never darken my door again.  Users and chiselers are people I’d rather not associate myself with.  It seems the more tight our real estate market is becoming, the more people with those mindsets seem to show their true colors.

A real eye-opener came today while out at a lumber yard ordering a new storm door.  I’m not a person to always be out buying one, but “wow”, the prices have sure gone up since the last time I purchased one.  It’s no wonder so many homes in Mason City don’t have acceptable looking storm doors.  It’s just one more example of how many of today’s buyers don’t realize that there is a life expectancy on almost every component of their new homes.  Nearly all dwellings are not like George Forman grills to where you set them and forget them.   Yet again I say, “There is a great need for homebuyer education in our country.”

On a lighter note, I noticed a hidden barn swallow nest today and snapped the above photo so to share with you.  I love to watch them dive after flying insects–especially during those glorious minutes around dusk.

Just Watching

Just WatchingSeveral people who happened to bring up the subject of our weather today both agreed that we’ve had quite the unusual month of May where the rains seemed to never cease, the winds were at gale force several times, and the temperatures lower than normal.  I can certainly see how the “hot” weather flowers and vegetables are just treading water with their growth cycles while waiting for it to warm up.  I’ll be very sad if we have a shorter than normal summer.  Can you believe the longest day of the year is only 22 days from now?  We’ll be on a downhill slide after we get past June 21st.

Most of my morning was spent doing my final little “to do’s” on several closings coming up as well as attending the closing of one of my listings.  I’m exceptionally happy for the buyers who’ll certainly make it their cozily comfortable cottage style home.  The next on my list was to open up a home that I’d recently shown potential buyers, but today they had visiting relatives from whom they also wanted their opinions on the idea of purchasing it.  Of course I really didn’t mind doing it because sometimes it helps with the decision making process when getting opinions from other close family members.

Tomorrow I’ll have my last closing for the month.  I can say it’s been a busy 31 days and it appears next month will be a mirroring of May.  I’m still not sure where this buyer activity is going to take us.  If we don’t get more listings signed up in our critically short of inventory price ranges, we’ll be seeing all the more bottlenecking taking place.  Sellers can’t bump up to their next levels unless they have something to step up to.  I’m already hearing about all the more people deciding to have additions added to their existing homes.

An unexpected phone call today came from a client who sold his home here some months ago.  I was delighted to hear all is well with his life out in Eastern Iowa.  I was going to ask him not to drive past his old digs should he ever be back in Mason City because of some major changes that’ve taken place, but it was too late.  He’d been back some weeks ago and got a shocking look for himself.   But as we all know, change is inevitable–especially when new owners with different tastes take up residence.

There are a number of reasons people shouldn’t return to their old homes.  As I see it, the biggest one is when seeing a home that used to be yours, but now occupied by others, permanently distorts memories–especially the fond ones.  So who in their right minds want to pollute the dearest of memories that’ve been so closely held?

Over the weekend, I happened to have my camera with me when spotting some men working on the roof of our old City Hall.  Seeing them up that high and its roof being so sharp of pitch, made me squeamish just watching them while snapping the above photo.

Memorial Day of 2017

Memorial Day of 2017Since having a number of appointments in and around the Downtown, I’d say there were quite a few people out and about–especially after the carnival opened again for the kiddie rides.  I’d say those mechanical joy monsters look beyond the stage of being well worn and rickety.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their parts came over on the Mayflower.  You couldn’t pay me enough to climb into one of those contraptions.

I didn’t have the inclination to stop at Central Park where a number of little tents were set up which looked like they were selling all kinds of what appeared to be carnival junk food along with fuzzy souvenirs. It did look like the children were having fun, so it guess that’s what matters.

Believe it or not, I was over in Floyd County twice today conducting an inspection along with the showing of an acreage.  I’m still amazed at the prices many of our rural acreages are bringing.  Seems everyone wants privacy and distance from the general public.   I guess it does stand to reason considering all the stress working couples have to deal with on a daily basis.  My take on this whole upsurge in popularity is that they’re wanting more distance as well as separation from their fellow humans to where when they arrive home, they can quietly rest and recharge without any fears of being bothered by pesty neighbors.

From what I’ve seen of late, there’ve been a good number of people that’ve opted for the country, but don’t realize all the extra work involved.  There’s the endless mowing, the upkeep of homes and out-buildings, the removal of snow from long lanes,  and above all,  the ever-present possibility of something happening to their septic tanks or wells.  When something does break down, it’s usually in the dead of winter, which is why I make sure and let the city dwellers looking for country homes know all the extra work and concerns that are involved.  If you want to live in the country, make sure you do it with eyes wide open.

Now that we’re nearing the end of May, I’m in hopes we’ll have warmer days ahead to where we can keep our furnaces permanently turned off until Fall arrives.  I checked out our extended weather forecast and noticed it’s still not going to be that warm. I think there’s just going to be one day this week that may possibly come close to being in the upper 70′s.

One of my showings today was to a couple whom I’ve known for a very long time.  The wife is such a sweetheart and always introduces me to others as the brother she never had.  I think the world of both of them, but the wife is one of those rare people who exudes goodness. Why can’t everyone work at being just darned good without harboring hatreds, jealousies, and hidden agendas.  If all of us would ever reach that point, I think we’d finally consider ourselves to being citizens of the Peaceable Kingdom.

I stopped at the cemetery and visited a several of my dearly departed and then did my own little private walking tour.  I hope you’re all enjoying our Memorial Day of 2017, so now as you know, marks the time our pull our our grills and dust off the patio furniture.  The above photo is one I took of a gravesite which exhibited an old-fashioned container housing fresh-cut roses.  It warmed my heart and brightened my soul.

Band Festival for 2017

The weather forecast I looked at last weekend for this weekend called for rain today, and sure enough we had rain, but fortunately it came after 3:00 pm and not that much. At least the parade didn’t get rained on.  Other than the hour and a half I spent watching the parade, the bulk of my morning was filled with returning calls and preparing for tomorrow’s appointments.  For it being Memorial Day weekend, there sure are people out there wanting to look at homes.

My public open house at 323 – 6th St. NW was a great success.  There were people coming and going the entire time, and several of them taking really long looks and asking the right questions.  I’ll not be surprised if there’ll be call backs for second looks.  Everyone in attendance marveled at the quality of workmanship as well as its overall move-in condition.  As I mentioned before, every time I’m there, I get this wonderful “grounded” feeling.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also felt by everyone else that stepped thru its front door.

You all may consider me a killjoy, but the Band Festival today was quite the disappointment for me.  There were so few bands that I couldn’t help but say to myself, “What the heck’s happened?”  I haven’t gone to each and every parade over these long years, but my memory is still good enough to where I can distinctly remember far more bands than there were today.   Whomever was in charge of soliciting the out-of-town schools to make the trip here, should be chastised for there being such a weak showing.  I know there’ve been school budget cuts across the Midwest, but that shouldn’t have been the reason for the marching bands from those schools not being in attendance today.

For me, today’s showing was a litmus test which confirmed the waning popularity of Mason City being the place where marching bands meet once a year.  Some may think me bias, but I’m not so sure the re-skinning of The Music Man Square is going to solve the chronic dwindling interest in Meredith Willson and the legacy he left to Mason City.  It’s sad, but again, it’s another example of our changing times–especially with our youth.

Late this afternoon I happened to run into a gentleman who’s somewhat older than me who grew up here in Mason City.  I told him about my experience at the parade today and he also recalled the time when he was in high school, and remembered big marching bands coming from as far away as Illinois and Minnesota.  I’m glad we had our little chat, because sometimes our memories can be skewed–especially after so many years.

Above you’ll find the photo gallery of Mason City’s Band Festival for 2017.